Have you stopped by the shop on a Sunday lately? If you have, then you've most likely met Chelsea. We're thankful to have her with us on Sundays and are thrilled to properly introduce you...
Hi Chelsea! You may look familiar to a lot of people that stop by the shop. You were an absolute life line to us during the holiday season, helping out here and there on our busiest weekends last December. I’m so happy that you are now able to join Genara regularly now. What made you want to jump back in here at the shop?
I came back because I love the store! It feels so good here: intentional, kind, thoughtful, textural, detailed, relaxing. It’s nice to spend my Sundays in an environment that makes me feel appreciated and creative. This is actually a space where I come to de-stress, even when I’m not working. Also, this is one of only local stores that I actually enjoy shopping at that isn’t a thrift store.
Tell us where else we may have seen you around town.
Until mid-2019, I worked in the hospitality industry around town, so you may have seen me managing, serving, or bartending at a number of restaurants: Nancy’s Hustle, Uchi, or Pass & Provisions, among others. I decided to return to school in 2019 to study horticulture and ecological restoration, so I began working in gardens, most recently at Memorial Park Conservancy, where I worked as a Horticulture Tech; however, I am now their Social Media & Communications Coordinator.
This article about “polyworkers” came up recently and I thought of you. You’re a student, a full-time employee and part-time here. Please tell me how you manage it all! Any regular rituals or organization practices that help you keep it together?
To be fair, I have always been like this, perhaps to my own detriment. When I moved back to Houston after college in 2011, I somehow found myself working three jobs seven days a week. And it’s continued more or less like that since then. Now I actually feel more settled. I do work full time, am a student that wavers between part-and full-time depending on my course load, work here at Genara, and have begun some garden design consultation work, albeit infrequently at the moment. Maybe it's survival mode and the inevitable inertia of that that pushes me, and I somehow luckily manage it all, because I don’t have a lot of rituals. I’m actually very envious of those who are able to maintain a routine.
The closest I come to a ritual is keeping a written daily planner in which I write down appointments, homework assignments, tasks for the week (even if I don’t complete them), big work projects, reminders to buy dog food, meal prep ideas, etc. I am definitely a list-maker, and my full-size daily planner is like my brain’s workspace.
I’m also a big believer in mental health. I see a therapist every week, and I’m really proud of that. It’s an incredibly important part of my life, and I’ve learned a lot about how to manage life and care for myself. I’ve found over the last year I’ve really refocused my goals and values and started concentrating on what makes me feel valid. A lot of this looks like staying home, cooking a meal for myself or with my partner, and just hanging out with my dogs. Discovering myself, and valuing that, has given me a lot of renewed perspective, and I think that, along with having an incredibly supportive partner, gives me strength and balance.
One thing that I sincerely appreciate about you is your keen eye and the knack you have for visuals. How did you come to hone this talent?
Having worked in retail and hospitality environments most of my life, as well as a brief stint at a print and design studio, I’ve learned a lot about how to edit and engage visually. I love creating vignettes around my home of my random thrifted housewares or ceramic art from local friends and makers. I am a details person, and a bit 'Type A.' I find myself fussing over the small things a lot, whether that be at the store or presentations for school or work. I think I am also just a creative person, and have always been a bit of a romantic. I find a lot of meaning and emotion in objects, art, and especially in nature.
What or who is inspiring you right now?
Right now I’m mostly inspired by the work of the New Perennialist movement in garden design, like Piet Oudolf, Nigel Dunnett, Dan Pearson, Midori Shintani, and so many others. Anything written by Robin Wall Kimmerer. I’m also really enjoying the movement in interior design toward natural materials, color, and secondhand pieces. I’m fairly eclectic, so that interests me. Nature is always inspiring, and so are the people who dedicate themselves to uplifting it. I am also inspired by the paradigm shift of awareness of climate change and humanity's role in affecting the balance and health of our biosphere. As someone who studies ecology and climate, I am really inspired by those working for that awareness and working toward shifting our way of engaging with the world toward something more reverent, intentional, and reciprocal.
We all have those “omg, you HAVE to try this” picks from the shop. What have been some of your tried and true products?
My number one will always and forever be the Mar Mar ‘Other Desert Cities’ candle. It’s been my favorite for so long. I wish I could buy one every month forever. I need them to bottle this scent. I also love Bathing Culture Mind & Body Wash, both for the scent and the low waste refill option. The Bachan’s Japanese Barbecue Sauce is delicious, and I use it on nearly every veggie and rice bowl I make. My beloved Kaweco pen I use everyday and carry with me religiously. Also the New Soho Sketch Book I use for garden design musings, the Sisters Nourishing Conditioner, and the Nopalera Cactus Flower Exfoliant. And of course the Jao Patio Oil, which really helps me from getting demolished by mosquitos when I’m outside with my dogs or in the garden.
Anything on your wishlist for your own home?
Currently on my wishlist is a Madeleine Pellegren Candlestick, the Cinnamon Projects ‘I Feel Love’ perfume (love the amber scent), Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp (so so good!), GOLDA Topanga Love Atmosphere Mist, a set of Blackwing 602 pencils, the Pasta Markers, and any of the Hasami Porcelain in Natural—mostly the bowls; I’m an everything-in-a-bowl person.
Lastly, tell us what else you’re up to right now! Where can we keep up with you?
I’ve been diving into an extensive Konmari process lately. I am selling and giving away a lot of my possessions and hoping to refresh my home and my mind. Also I’ve been working on designing garden spaces, mostly with native Texas and Harris County plants. These are hypothetical for now, as well as an effort to continue to hone and practice my skills, but I hope to start designing local spaces soon!
You can keep up with me on instagram at @chelsea___ellen!